Like many businesses, Modulr has had to make rapid adjustments to its way of working in light of COVID-19. Our entire workforce is operating remotely, including the Product Innovation Team who support the wider Product department.
But it hasn’t changed our commitment to delivering payments reliability and innovation to our customers.
We spoke to Lea-Jane Baird, Tomasz Stupnicki and Maria Naumchenko about the challenges they’ve faced in the last few months, and how they’ve pivoted their approach to support businesses and each other. We also asked them how this unprecedented situation has changed their outlook and what learnings they’ll take with them into the future.
How has COVID-19 changed your team’s strategy over the last few months?
Lea: COVID-19 has forced organisations globally to re-examine and refocus everything—especially product strategy. Here at Modulr, we’ve been working to understand what the ‘new normal’ will look like for the businesses we serve, including accountants and SMEs. We’ve reprioritised our team’s roadmap to deliver products that businesses need the most right now.
Maria: It’s had a profound impact on how businesses think about their go-to-market strategy. While some opportunities have gone away, new ones have surfaced – this is driving businesses to become more agile in their approach. At Modulr, we’re no exception. We’re putting great effort into understanding how the pandemic is impacting our customers, so we can build the right products to support them.
Tomasz: The pandemic has impacted us all at Modulr – we had to quickly reshape our way of working and move product delivery into an entirely remote model. Most of our team are used to working from home, but having everyone do it at once was definitely an adjustment. Fortunately, the quality and speed of iteration hasn’t slowed down. And in some ways, it’s helped us forge stronger bonds – both with our customers and our colleagues.
Lea, you recently hosted the Modulr Digital Accountancy Roadshow online. Can you talk us through the strategy behind that and how it’s been received?
Lea: SMEs have been impacted enormously by COVID-19 and it’s putting immense pressure on the accountants who support them. There’s a real need to stay informed during this time of stress and uncertainty. But of course, we couldn’t hold our Accountancy Roadshow in person. That’s why we decided to take the entire roadshow online.
We hosted a series of digital events with speakers from Sage, iwoca, KPMG and Acumen Accountants and Advisors to offer vital insights into the challenges that accountants and SMEs are facing since COVID-19. Together we discussed how accountants can provide the best support to their clients while continuing to grow and scale. Watch the latest Accountancy Roadshow on cashflow forecasting.
The response to these digital events really has been amazing. We offered audiences the chance to learn about the impact of COVID-19 on UK businesses and how they can push through these challenging times. It was very well received.
What challenges did your team face during the transition to remote working?
Lea: I read a great comment online that said: “You’re not working from home, you’re at home during a crisis trying to work”. Fortunately, our team has quickly embraced the ‘new normal’. It’s given us a chance to utilise all the amazing virtual communication tools we have in the business. I’ve genuinely seen the team start to communicate more frequently and effectively – they’ve managed to recreate that same energy you have in a room together.
Tomasz: Initially, we thought the biggest challenge would be maintaining the team’s spirit while being apart from each other. However, we quickly realised that we could work closely and collaboratively online, despite these strange times. And with everyone dialling in from home, it’s given us a glimpse of each other’s personal lives and the chance to meet each other’s families – that’s been a real treat as it rarely happens otherwise.
Maria: Before this all happened, face-to-face communication was an important part of our business. We’d share news with colleagues over lunch or coffee, or just catch up as we passed by each other’s desks. It’s been great to see everyone stepping up to make sure this sense of camaraderie isn’t lost. Most people are being very flexible and generous with their time, even though their calendars have probably gotten busier. We’re also using tools like Slack to chat, share updates and motivate each other.
What skills or learnings will you take into the future?
Lea: We’ve recently started User Testing some products in our team. Normally we would have aimed to do this in person. It’s amazed me how well this has gone and altered my perception about remote testing sessions being less effective than those held ‘in person’. This is something the product team will continue post lockdown.
I’ve also learned how to utilise some great pieces of software, such as Miro and Mural, to have more collaborative online meetings. And finally, it’s reminded me how important that work/life balance is. Taking the time to be present in your ‘one walk a day’ or while having dinner with your family is so important, and ensures that you keep everything in perspective.
Tomasz: I agree, it’s really brought the subject of work/life balance into focus. Some businesses worry that their employees will underperform or take shortcuts when they’re working remotely. But from what I’ve seen, the opposite is true – most employees will strive to prove themselves and deliver value to customers, sometimes jeopardising their personal life. Having a virtual home office makes it easy for the boundaries to blur. That’s why it’s so important to encourage a balanced approach and keep checking on your employees’ wellbeing.
Maria: That’s very true. There are three rules we’ve followed as a team to make a success of remote working. One is to communicate often – this doesn’t have to be through a formal meeting, it could be chatting via email or Slack. The second is to be aware of your work/life balance, even if your desk is in the living room. And lastly, have empathy and support for your team – everyone’s work environment is different.
To see what Lea, Tomasz and Maria are currently working on, visit payment innovation.
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